B.C.’s public safety minister says the government is working with the RCMP to address a projected $10.7-million budget shortfall in the force’s provincial budget.
In a statement to Black Press Media on Thursday, Mike Farnworth said the RCMP has informed the province about a projected deficit, and that inflation, overtime and other costs have become increasingly difficult to manage.
“This has not impacted significant and continued provincial and federal investments into gangs and organized crime initiatives and prevention,” he said, including the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.
The RCMP’s provincial budget covers integrated units such as homicide investigation, traffic, and forensics, as well as rural policing. Urban centres, such as Kelowna and Surrey, are largely funded by municipalities.
Late Thursday, director of B.C. RCMP communications Dawn Roberts emphasized that the cuts are still just a projection, and the first things on the chopping block are travel expenses, overtime, non-mandatory training, and new equipment.
That won’t be enough, however, she added, so senior officers will need to discuss options with the province.
“We’re trying to be as transparent as possible. We do not want to impact front-line policing operations,” Roberts told Black Press Media in a phone interview.
When asked whether integrated units could be affected, she said: “All of us are looking at our spending envelope and seeing whether or not we can make reductions.”
Brian Sauve, president of the National Police Federation, said called the cuts “concerning,” but nothing new.
He said he’s mainly concerned about how to maintain adequate service levels and how to ensure staff receive enough down time. He’s also seen mention of a “possible freeze” in staffing areas like transfers and promotions.
“Whether it has to do with extra work or working harder to get the job done, [Mounties] will still do it,” he told Black Press Media by phone.
The RCMP has not had union representation until now. The federation was finally certified as the official bargaining agent earlier this year following a historic court ruling back in 2015.
Sauve said he hopes to meet with the premier and public safety minister soon. Roberts said she anticipated that the union would be involved in future negotiations.